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[Published in Phronema 24 (2009) 35-50]

Byzantine Insights into Genesis 1-3:

St Andrew of Crete’s Great Canon
Doru Costache

I have elsewhere treated the Great Canon of St Andrew1, an early eighth century liturgical poem,
as the epitome of the patristic Byzantine approach to the Scriptures. Its 250 troparia or stanzas2
refer to an impressive list of biblical figures (many of whom are from Genesis and the
Pentateuch3), along with incorporating generous amounts of scriptural phraseology and literary
devices4. Indeed, whilst representing a way of reading the Scriptures, the Canon’s content is
overall biblical – an aspect of great hermeneutical importance that remains altogether ignored5.

The present article addresses the manner in which the foundational narratives of Genesis 1-3 are
assimilated within St Andrew’s composition, as known today to the Church and performed in the
first week of Great Lent, when the readings from Genesis begin in the Byzantine rite. In fact, the
function of the Canon in the first Lenten week seems to be primarily that of facilitating the
readers’ access to the Genesis lectures and other scriptural paradigms6.

In the following, the poem is first analysed from the point of view of its use of Genesis (and
related texts) within the framework of a theology of creation characterised by soteriological
overtones. Then, the article explores the existential method and concrete ways in which St
Andrew considers – for formative purposes – the foundational narratives. Although the relevance
of this method to current debates concerning the ecclesial interpretation of Genesis is obvious, no
practical examples will be provided here.


Genesis and the Great Canon’s theology of creation

The Great Canon’s theology is consistent, such that Archbishop Stylianos justifiably speaks of its
‘dogmatic plenitude’7. It is not surprising therefore to find within its poetical threads a solid
theology of creation – inspired by the Genesis narratives and parallels – that functions both as a
background for the economy of salvation and a context for humanity’s journey through history.

In line with the early ecclesial tradition, the cornerstone of this theology is the Trinitarian God as
creator, provider and saviour, the origin and eschatological goal of creation 8. The Holy Trinity’s
pivotal role is obvious in all its complexity in the identification of the incarnate Son of God with
the agent of creation, the divine Logos. The poet acknowledges paradoxically: ‘you are my sweet
Jesus, you are the one who fashioned me (Πλαστουργός μου); through you, O Saviour (Σωτήρ), I
shall regain normality’9. Full of hope, on the account of Christ being maker of all (Κτίστην
πάντων) elsewhere the author appeals to the Lord’s mercy: ‘take care of your own moulding
(πλάσματος), O Saviour’11. This identification recurs frequently in the poem, as in the following
stanza where the incarnation is central: ‘God the maker of the ages (ὁ κτίσας τοῦς αἰῶνας) robed
himself in the dough of my being and united to him the human nature’12.

As strange as they may sound for many contemporaries, accustomed to think of God as creator
and Jesus as merely a human figure deprived of cosmological significance, the above statements
build upon the incarnational realism and holistic coherence of the early Church’s mindset. More
precisely, they give expression to the central tenet of the apostolic kerygma that the historical
saviour is the universe’s creator whose deeds reverberate therefore on the cosmic and ontological
levels, beyond our narrow frame of reference. By juxtaposing Genesis imagery and aspects of
Jesus’ life13, the poem abundantly illustrates this understanding. Since Christ is God and creator,
his incarnation and earthly life represent and perform a profound restoration of creation: he
renews the laws of nature (καινίζει νόμους φύσεως) and remakes the natures (καινοποιεῖ τὰς
φύσεις) . This


universal reconstruction is vividly depicted in the troparia that contemplate the Lord’s Calvary.
Reiterating a vision common to other Byzantine hymns – such as the famous Lamentations
chanted on the Holy Friday night – the Canon highlights in dramatic tones the distress
experienced by the entire terrestrial ecosystem when it witnessed the crucifixion. Within this
depiction motifs from the Gospels can be readily identified (cf. Matthew 27:45, 51-3; Luke

Creation was carried away (ἡ κτίσις συνείχετο) seeing you crucified. Mountains and
rocks were torn asunder in dread, the earth trembled, hell was emptied, and the light
darkened in daytime, seeing you, Jesus, nailed through your flesh to the cross15.

On a similar holistic yet more positive note, St Andrew elsewhere describes the confidence, joy
and doxological gratitude of creation for the salvation procured by the ‘crucified Logos’16:

Being willingly crucified on the tree, O merciful one, you worked salvation in the
midst of the earth (ἐν μέσῳ τῆς γῆς) so that we may be saved. Eden that was closed is
reopened. Those from on high and below, creation and all the nations being saved,
revere you17.

This holistic approach finds a correspondent in the background imagery and lexical structure of
the poem, which copiously borrow from throughout the Scriptures. Nevertheless, at least in what
concerns the theology of creation, the referential axis remains the foundational narratives and
their parallels. In the Canon, everything that is constitutes God’s creation: all beings are his
‘works’ (ἔργα; allusion to Genesis 2:2 LXX) and his ‘making’ (πλάσμα; allusion to Genesis 2:7
LXX)18. Traces from Genesis, combined with psalmic imagery (cf. Psalm 148 LXX), may be
identified in the cosmic scenery serving as a context for the poet’s fervour: ‘attend, O sky, and I
will speak; O earth, give ear to a voice repenting to God and singing praises to him’19. Indeed,
both Genesis and the Psalms place human history within a cosmic setting; in the same vein, St
Andrew’s dialog with the ensemble of creation shows that his praises are not solitary, meant as
they are to add to the hymn of glory endlessly chanted by the universe:


‘let every breath and all creation (πᾶσα πνοὴ καὶ κτίσις) chant, bless and exalt [God] for all the

More explicit echoes of Genesis can be traced in the anthropology of the Canon. Made of the clay
of the earth (cf. Genesis 2:7 LXX and Wisdom of Solomon 15:8, 11), the human being is entirely

shaped by God, the ‘living and creative Spirit’ (Πνεῦμα ζῶν καὶ κτίζον)21: ‘in making alive the clay
(τὸν πηλὸν ζωοπλαστήσας), O Potter (Κεραμεύς), you put in me flesh and bones, breath and life’22.
The human person features here, like in the foundational narratives, as an intermediary being,
related to everything and in which converge all the cosmic realms – spiritual and material –, an
aspect pointed out by Nellas23.

The Great Canon’s holistic message concerning creation brings together theology, anthropology
and cosmology, sacred history and personal events, integrating them into a complex synthesis that
draws its inspiration from Genesis24 and including them within a soteriological perspective.
Interpreted within these parameters, the earthly life of Christ – the creator Logos incarnate – is
taken both as representing and operating a radical renewal of humanity and the entire cosmos.
Consequent to this restoration, humankind and the universe constitute a choir that worships God
as one creation25, in anticipation of the eschatological fulfilment. This hope-inspiring aspect
should be considered as the true metanarrative of the poem within which unfolds the assessment
of human failures and accomplishments, and to which I will now turn.

Genesis as the story of ‘you, my soul’

The Great Canon contains valuable information witnessing to the Byzantine mode of reading the
foundational narratives and the Scriptures in general. An important feature of this approach is that
whilst manifesting truthfulness to the Bible, the Byzantine way likewise means creativity in its
use. As an illustration par excellence of this approach, St Andrew’s reading of Genesis results in
a thorough rewriting of the biblical material 26, rendered as a narrative – soteriologically and
pastorally conditioned – that encourages self-examination and contributes to spiritual formation27.


Without ignoring the scriptural figures it evokes, the poem takes Genesis as the story of ‘you, my
soul’28. More precisely, within its hermeneutical framework the characters in the foundational
narratives become pretexts to speak, and landmarks for the assessment, of the personal
experiences of both author and the readers29. This aspect corresponds to the very spirit of Genesis
and paraphrases of it in late antiquity30.

The last two odes31 emphasise the author’s purposeful review of the large amount of images
borrowed from both Testaments. All the figures brought into the poem’s frame, whether
thoroughly interpreted or just alluded to, basically fall under two categories, respectively
illustrating either the path of righteousness or that of sinfulness. Thus, they are presented in such
a manner that the soul may learn from them how to discern between good and evil, and choose
rightly – a perspective which reiterates the dominant theme of Genesis 2-3. Perhaps the most
illuminating passage of this sort, containing a direct reference to the creation narrative, reads:

[My] soul, I have presented you from Moses the making of the world (κοσμογένεσιν)
and in the same vein all canonical Scripture, which accounts for you of the righteous
and the unrighteous. But you, O soul, have imitated the latter and not the former,
having sinned against God32.

By evoking the narrative of creation (not just the story of paradise), the Canon shares in the
traditional approach to the Scriptures, indicated by the Bible itself (cf. Romans 15:4; 2 Timothy
3:14-7): nothing may be considered as irrelevant – ecclesially and personally – within the sacred

texts. Of course, all the stories may be read within their original context and for the purpose of
tracing the intentions of their respective authors, yet a historical interpretation of many passages
would make them utterly irrelevant, both personally and ecclesially. Elaborating within the
confines of tradition, the Canon takes a different avenue: as a collection marked by the ecclesial
mindset and experience, the Scriptures are here explored in ways that make every phrase relevant
to the readers. Symptomatically, the poem indeed brings to life a long list of characters and
events (such


as the Shunammite woman, cf. 4 Kings 4:833; Hophni and Phinehas, cf. Leviticus 9:21-
2434 etc) otherwise considered marginal, if not simply ignored by many readers.

With this way of reading, in the process of extracting from the raw scriptural data the wisdom
required by the spiritual path, historicity becomes secondary35. Nevertheless, this does not imply
disbelief. The poem never questions, for instance, whether Adam and Eve were historical figures,
taking the narrative for granted: ‘Adam was rightly exiled from Eden for not observing your only
commandment, O Saviour’36. Within the Canon, however, this remains the only direct reference
to the actual events involving the characters in the foundational narratives. The rest of the related
material treats the biblical accounts tangentially, taken as terms of comparison for the intentions
and deeds of the main figure in the Canon – ‘you, my soul’ – thus making the story relevant to the
reader. In other words, the poem as a retold story treats the past events narrated by Genesis as
perennial paradigms for our experience hic et nunc, a method that corresponds to the traditional
‘spiritualising’ approach to Genesis37. On this note, the analysis turns to the story of the soul.

St Andrew reiterates the general Byzantine attitude toward sin38; as such, the materialisation of
sinful dispositions has for him no juridical consequences39. Sin represents an existential failure
that affects the very being of the person by disconnecting it from the divine source of life. The
character portrayed by the Canon, ‘you, my soul’, has chosen poorly in life, emulating the
negative examples depicted by the Scriptures to eventually surpass them all in wickedness.
According to the author’s remorseful acknowledgment, ‘no descendant of Adam (οὐδεὶς τῶν ἐξ
Ἀδάμ) has sinned as I against you [my God]’ . This explains why, when referring to the inner
dispositions illustrated by the protagonists of the paradisiacal narrative, these are readily
appropriated to ‘you, my soul’. The first ode of the Monday portion explores such similarities,
presenting the choices of the soul in comparison with Adam’s deviation (παράβασις)41 and Eve’s
passionate thought (ἐμπαθὴς λογισμός)42. Within a range of circumstances, the passionate soul
instinctively follows the greedy look of Eve yearning to taste the ‘deceptive/irrational food’
(παραλόγου βρώσεως), which can be


taken as a metaphor of the world’s visible side43. This approach affects the soul, causing it ‘bitter
wounds’: attracted by sweetness yet devouring just ‘bitter things’, it discovers that far from
reaching satiety and fulfilment it remains ‘deprived of God, the eternal kingdom and pleasure’44.
The state of sinfulness is associated with an unbearable longing after a perfection that remains
elusive insofar as the human person does not change its lifestyle.

This line of thought is reiterated at length within the second ode of the Monday portion yet
without mentioning Adam and Eve by name. All the same, in spite of this omission the story of
the soul overlaps the narrative depicting the forefathers’ experience. St Andrew focuses on the

analysis of the soul’s sinful thoughts, designated as ‘hedonistic propensities’ (φιληδόνοις ὁρμαῖς)45.
These tendencies drive the mind to ‘stare at the ripeness of the tree’ 46 and desire what is
prohibited. Forgetting its familiarity with God and oblivious of the noble state attained through
communion with God – its ‘iconic ontology’, as Nellas terms it 47 – the soul mistakes the fruit of
the world as the supreme and most desirable value. Only after consuming the fruit, whatever this
might be, the soul realises that it was beguiled by appearances: ‘my mind was deceived’
(ἠπατήθην τὸν νοῦν)48 and ‘I have thoroughly subdued my whole mind to dust’ (χοῦν ἀπετέλεσα), or
the inferior side of human nature49. Succumbing to deception is not without repercussions,
however. The soul and its ‘fleshly garment’ (the body) are both ‘stained’ 50, disfigured by this
failure. The spiritual beauty acquired through a virtuous life is now defiled, darkened, destroyed51
and eventually replaced by an ugliness that evokes the original formless chaos (cf. Genesis 1:2):
‘I have imprinted in me the formlessness of passions’ (παθῶν ἀμορφίαν)52. This dramatic situation
is unveiled through a suggestive antithesis opposing the splendid garments of glory woven by
God and the sullied vestment put on by the soul with the complicity of the snake 53. According to
Nellas, within the economy of the poem this antithesis illustrates the human being’s degeneration
from the state of a theological being to merely a biological entity54. The aspect of degeneration –
‘departure from the state of wholeness’55 – constitutes the most tragic outcome of the fall. The
poem sanctions it succinctly: ‘I lay naked (κεῖμαι γυμνός) and am ashamed’56.


When alluding to the paradisiacal experience of the forefathers, the rest of the Canon follows a
similar pattern, adding nuances or repeating in new contexts the main lines of the first two odes
of Monday portion. For instance, together with Adam and Eve, the soul acknowledges its
responsibility for having rejected God’s commandment and realises that it ‘excelled in sins’,
adding more wounds to its bruises57. There is a rapport of direct proportionality between
sinfulness and traumas, also pondered by St Andrew in his homilies: the more a person is
swallowed up by sin, the more its life is affected by wounds and perishability (ἐνύλῳ φθορᾷ)58.
Particularly the second ode of the Tuesday portion explores the consequences of abandoning the
spiritual path, making use of the imagery and vocabulary of Genesis 3 and parallels. The author
speaks again of the passionate and hedonistic propensities (ἐμπαθοῦς καὶ φιληδόνου ζωῆς)59, which
progressively turn into irresistible urges. Along this insidious transformation, whilst despising
voluntary poverty or the ascetic approach to life, the soul becomes a slave of greed, falling in love
with material things and possessions (φιλόϋλον καὶ φιλοκτήμονα βίον)60. Rendered as a burdensome
collar or yoke, this kind of slavery causes disruptions to the inner self, which succumbs under the
weight of the passions’ sorrowful joy (παθῶν ἀλγηδόνι). Moreover, it offers the evil one the
possibility to take over and oppress the soul61. Attacked both from within and outside, the inner
self, originally configured by God, is utterly overwhelmed: ‘I have buried with passions the
beauty (κάλλος) of the former image’ (πρὶν εἰκόνος)62.

A new nuance is introduced, meant to indicate the nature of temptation as experienced by Eve
before the tree. It is the attraction for the superficial or epidermal aspects of life and the
abandonment of inner, spiritual, values: ‘I have diligently thought only of the outward adornment
(ἔξωθεν εὐκοσμίας) and have neglected the inner tent (ἔνδον σκηνῆς), divinely shaped’
(Θεοτυπώτου)63. This superficiality deprived the forefathers of their innocence; similarly, the soul
wastes its virtue by endeavouring to embellish the statue or idol of the flesh through ‘the
multicoloured vesture (ποικίλῃ περιβολῇ) of shameful thoughts’64. The Canon reiterates here the
earlier antithesis of the two garments yet bringing more details from the scriptural narrative, in a
rendition that echoes St Ephraim’s65.


Losing the ‘former divinely woven clothing’ (τῆς πρίν, θεοϋφάντου στολῆς) and freely surrendering
to the passions66, the sinful soul is enveloped like the forefathers in the ‘garments of skin’
(δερματίνους χιτῶνας)67. The new existential state suggested by the change of vestments, is
rendered also as the ‘clothing of shame’ (τὸν στολισμὸν τῆς αἰσχύνης) symbolised by the fig
leaves68 or the ‘spotted and shamefully blood-stained garment’ (κατεστιγμένον χιτῶνα καὶ
ἡμαγμένον αἰσχρῶς) whose content is a passionate life and the various addictions .

Approaching Genesis in conversation with ‘you, my soul’, the Canon does not speak of past
events; rather, it realistically and prophetically depicts, in light of the foundational narratives, the
main features of our current experience in the world and a consumerist society. Nevertheless, this
kind of discourse, meant to assist human consciousness – ‘you, my soul’ – in its endeavour to
assess its true character, propensities and issues, causes perhaps perplexity and aversion. For
many, indeed, the Canon is just another epitome of an antiquated approach to life, obsessed with
human weaknesses and sinfulness70. This should come as no surprise. Almost exclusively
concerned with social successfulness and the projection of outer, self-gratifying, images, our
meritocratic culture lamentably results in a misrepresentation of the self, making the poem’s
message more actual than ever.

Within the Canon, however, and despite its dramatically sketched and moving depictions71,
human sinfulness does not constitute the overarching topic; also, it is not taken as an irreversible
fall. Being soteriologically conditioned, the message of the poem – like that of St Andrew’s
homilies72 – is overall optimistic, as already indicated at the end of the previous section. The
penitential tone and the thorough exploration of the various facets pertaining to human sinfulness,
through biblical imagery, have therefore a therapeutic dimension: no one can be healed if
sickness is ignored73. Thus, whilst equipping the readers with the necessary tools to identify what
the problems are, the Canon also inspires salvific hope. Hope is as necessary on the spiritual
journey as the awareness of our brokenness. The aspect is conveyed through a stanza dedicated to
St Mary of Egypt (Thursday portion, ode 5):


Desiring with incomparable yearning to revere the tree of the cross ( ξύλον τοῦ
Σταυροῦ), you the blessed one, your longing was appeased; make us also worthy to
inherit the glory from on high (ἄνω δόξης).

Juxtaposing the images of the paradisiacal tree and the cross, this interplay brings together – in a
hermeneutical rapport – the foundational and Calvary narratives. The effect is overwhelming: for
the Church, Genesis cannot be dissociated from the hermeneutical key as represented by Christ’s
life and crucifixion, and therefore from the soteriological criterion that underlies the ecclesial
mindset. St Mary and the other positive characters in the poem confirm both this key and the
possibility of walking the spiritual path.

Concluding remarks

Illustrating the ecclesial way of reading the Scriptures, the Great Canon likewise epitomises the
major shift from the classical genre of the exegetical homily, as cultivated by the early Church
fathers, to the Byzantine approach. The dominant character of this hermeneutical method is the
consistent aim of rewriting the foundational narratives (and indeed the whole Bible) through an

existential key that makes them personally and ecclesially relevant. One of the most significant
consequences of this approach is a new insight into the function of Genesis accounts within the
scriptural canon, as perceived by the Byzantine tradition. In short, for the Byzantines, the very
purpose of Genesis is to guide the experience of God’s people in the world. Far from representing
a scientific account, the foundational narratives instruct the ways of wisdom and contribute to
spiritual formation; cold and rigorous information lie far beyond the scope of the Scriptures.
Revealing the function of the biblical message as understood by the Church, the approach to
Genesis through the Canon’s lens may prove to constitute a meaningful contribution to
overcoming the interpretive conundrums and conflicting opinions maintained in the name of



An earlier version of this paper was presented for the Seminar Series of the Centre for the History
of Christian Thought and Experience (Macquarie University, Sydney; 19 March 2009). I am
indebted to Mr Dimitri Kepreotes and the referee for their observations and suggestions.


Doru Costache, ‘Reading the Scriptures with Byzantine Eyes: The Hermeneutical Significance of St Andrew of Crete’s Great Canon’,
Phronema XXIII (2008): 51-66. The version of the poem referred to is published in Τριώδιον (Αθήναι: Έκδοσεις Φώς, no year). The
translations into English are mine.
The number refers to the supposedly genuine troparia; in reality, there are about 270 strophes. Cf. Θωμᾶς Ν. Ζήσης, Ἆρον τὸν
κλοιὸν τὸν βαρύν Ἢτοι ἡ ἀκολουθία τοῦ Μεγάλου Κανόνα (Αθήνα: Έκδοσεις Γρηγόρη, 2006), 26; Sebastian Paşcanu, ‘Canonul
cel Mare al Sfântului Andrei Criteanul: Prezentare’, Glasul Bisericii 51/1 (1995): 59.
Cf. Paşcanu, ‘Canonul cel Mare’, 59; Costache, ‘Reading the Scriptures’, 55.
Cf. Ζήσης, Ἆρον τὸν κλοιὸν τὸν βαρύν 20-2; Frederica Mathewes-Green, First Fruits of Prayer: A Forty-Day Journey Through the
Canon of St Andrew (Brewster: Paraclete Press, 2006), XXXIII-XXXIV.
Ephrem Lash, ‘Biblical interpretation in worship’, in The Cambridge Companion to Orthodox Christian Theology, ed. Mary B.
Cunningham & Elizabeth Theokritoff (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 35-48, fails to even mention the Great Canon.
Cf. Costache, ‘Reading the Scriptures’, 53-4.
Cf. Στυλιανός Σ. Χαρκιανάκης, Ἀρχιεπίσκοπος Αὐστραλίας, <<Ποίηση καὶ δόγμα εἰς τὸ ἒργο τοῦ Ἁγίου Ἀνδρέου
Κρήτης>>, in Ἱερὰ Μητρόπολις Μυτιλήνης, Ὁ Ἃγιος Ἀνδρέας, Ἀρχιεπίσκοπος Κρήτης, ὁ Ἱεροσολυμίτης (Μυτιλήνη, 2005),
324. See

also Panayiotis Nellas, Deification in Christ: Orthodox Perspectives on the Nature of the Human Person, trans. Norman Russell
(Crestwood: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1997), 169.
See the respective doxastika of the nine odes. Cf. St Andrew’s Second Homily on the Nativity of the Theotokos 4, trans. by Mary B.
Cunningham, in Wider than Heaven: Eighth-Century Homilies on the Mother of God (Crestwood: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2008),
92. On the centrality of the Trinity within the Canon, see Χαρκιανάκης, <<Ποίηση καὶ δόγμα>>, 323.
Monday, ode 3.6. ‘I shall regain normality’ renders the existential dimension of rectitude encapsulated by δικαιωθήσομαι (literally, ‘I
shall be rectified’).
Monday, ode 6, Theotokion; cf. Monday, ode 1.2.
Thursday, ode 8.3; cf. Wednesday, ode 2, doxastikon.
Monday, ode 5, theotokion; cf. Monday, ode 6, theotokion.
This is a common procedure within Byzantine hymnography. Cf. Bogdan G. Bucur, ‘Exegesis of Biblical Theophanies in Byzantine
Hymnography: Rewritten Bible?’, Theological Studies 68 (2007): 99-100.
Cf. Monday, ode 4, theotokion; Monday, ode 9, eirmos. Cf. St Gregory the Theologian’s formulation ‘the natures renew and God
becomes man’ (Oration 39: On the Holy Light 13, PG 36, 348D). For the relation of incarnation and the theology of creation, see
Elizabeth Theokritoff, ‘Creator and creation’, in The Cambridge Companion to Orthodox Christian Theology, ed. Cunningham &
Theokritoff (quoted above), 64.
Thursday, ode 9.3. Cf. Theokritoff, ‘Creator and creation’, 69-70.
Cf. Wednesday, ode 4.2.
Wednesday, ode 4.3. See also Monday, ode 8, eirmos.
Monday, ode 4.1.
Monday, ode 2.1. The conversation with the sky and the earth reoccurs in the homilies. Cf. the Fourth Homily on the Nativity of the
Theotokos 7, in Wider than Heaven, 138.
Monday, ode 8, eirmos. See also his First Homily on the Nativity of the Theotokos 3, in Wider than Heaven, 75.
Monday, ode 8, doxastikon.
Tuesday, ode 1.4. The words evoke Isaiah 29:16 LXX.

Cf. Deification in Christ, 173.
On the holistic theology of Genesis, see Terence E. Fretheim, The Pentateuch (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1996), 70.
Cf. Monday, 2, eirmos, and ode 8, eirmos. See also the eleventh prayer of the Byzantine matins.
Cf. Costache, ‘Reading the Scriptures’, 58. This aspect corresponds to the general use of scriptural material within Byzantine
hymnography; cf. Bucur, ‘Exegesis of Biblical Theophanies’, 109-10.
On the ethical dimension of the Canon, succinctly, see Bucur, ‘Exegesis of Biblical Theophanies’, 108.
Cf. Elizabeth Theokritoff, ‘Praying the Scriptures in Orthodox Worship’, in Orthodox and Wesleyan Scriptural Understanding and
Practice, ed. S.T. Kimbrough, Jr. (Crestwood: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2005), 84; Alexander Schmemann, Great Lent, revised
edition (Crestwood: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1974), 64.
Cf. Paşcanu, ‘Canonul cel Mare’, 60; Ζήσης, Ἆρον τὸν κλοιὸν τὸν βαρύν, 26; Mathewes-Green, First Fruits of Prayer, XXXV. For
the place of Scripture in Orthodox devotion, see Douglas Burton-Christie, The Word in the Desert: Scripture and the Quest for Holiness
in Early Christian Monasticism (New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993), 47-8, 61-2, 122-9. Alexander Kazhdan et alii,
‘Andrew, metropolitan of Crete’, in A History of Byzantine Literature (650-850) (Athens: The National Hellenic Research Foundation -
Institute for Byzantine Research, 1999), 50-1, find an ambiguity in the use of ‘you, my soul’ to designate general issues; however, within
the context of the poet’s pastoral concerns, the ambiguity disappears.
Cf. Fretheim, The Pentateuch 68-9; Peter C. Bouteneff, Beginnings: Ancient Christian Readings of the Biblical Creation Narratives
(Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008), 22-3.
Cf. Monday, ode 9.4; Tuesday, ode 8.6.
Monday, ode 9.2.
Cf. Monday, ode 8.5.
Cf. Tuesday, ode 5.6.
See Kazhdan et alii, ‘Andrew, metropolitan of Crete’, 47.
Monday, ode 1.6.

Cf. Colin E. Gunton, ‘Between Allegory and Myth: The Legacy of the Spiritualising of Genesis’, in The Doctrine of Creation: Essays in
Dogmatics, History and Philosophy, ed. C.E. Gunton (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1997), 47-62.
See John Meyendorff, Byzantine Theology: Historical Trends and Doctrinal Themes, revised second edition (New York: Fordham
University Press, 1983, reprinted), 143.
Although present (cf. Tuesday, ode 2.7), the juridical aspect remains marginal. Cf. Nellas, Deification in Christ, 176. See also Kazhdan
et alii, ‘Andrew, metropolitan of Crete’, 50.
Tuesday, ode 2.10; ‘descendant of Adam’ paraphrase Deuteronomy 32:8 LXX. Cf. Monday, ode 2.2.
Cf. Monday, ode 1.3 & 1.6.
Cf. Monday, ode 1.4 & 1.5.
Like in St Maximus the Confessor, To Thalassius intro., PG 90, 257CD.
Monday, ode 1, troparion 3. Cf. Costache, ‘Reading the Scriptures’, 61-3.
Cf. Monday, ode 2.4.
Cf. Monday, ode 2.11.
Cf. Nellas, Deification in Christ, 173. The second ode renders this state diversely: ‘the beauty of my mind’ (τοῦ νοῦ τὴν ὡραιότητα;
2.4), ‘what is in your image and likeness, O Saviour’ ( τὸ κατ' εἰκόνα Σωτήρ, καὶ καθ' ὁμοίωσιν; 2.6), ‘the beauty of my soul’ ( τῆς
ψυχῆς τὸ ὡραῖον; 2.7), ‘my first garment (τὴν στολήν μου τὴν πρώτην) which the Fashioner (ὁ Πλαστουργὸς) wove for me from
the beginning’ (ἐξ ἀρχῆς; 2.8).
Cf. Monday, ode 2.11.
Monday, ode 2.7 (an allusion to our first, pre-paradisiacal, state as dust; cf. Genesis 2:7 LXX).
Cf. Monday, ode 2.6.
Cf. Monday, ode 2.4 & 2.7; Thursday, ode 7.3.
Monday, ode 2.4.
Cf. Monday, ode 2.8 & 2.9.

Cf. Deification in Christ, 175.
Theokritoff, ‘Praying the Scriptures’, 84.
Monday, ode 2.11; cf. 2.8 & 2.9. Cf. Nellas, Deification in Christ, 185.
Cf. Monday, ode 7.1; see also Thursday, ode 7.3.
See Tuesday, ode 2.5. Cf. his First Homily on the Nativity of the Theotokos 4, in Wider than Heaven, 77.
Cf. Tuesday, ode 2.3.
Cf. Tuesday, ode 2.5.
Cf. Tuesday, ode 2.4. Like a refrain, the aspiration to be freed from the enemy recurs on Thursday, ode 4.1 & 4.5-7. The refrains
represent a favourite literary device of our poet; cf. Kazhdan et alii, ‘Andrew, metropolitan of Crete’, 47.
Tuesday, ode 2.8; cf. Wednesday, ode 2.3 & Thursday, ode 7.3.
Tuesday, ode 2.7. The topic of the inner tent could represent an echo of the Macarian mysticism that establishes interesting
correspondences between the altar of the heart, that of the temple and their heavenly archetype; cf. Alexander Golitzin, Mystagogia:
Experienţa lui Dumnezeu în Ortodoxie, trans. Ioan I. Ică jr. (Sibiu: Deisis, 1998), 149-51 (the full English version of the text can be read
only in electronic format at and
Cf. ibidem and troparion 6.
See his Hymns on Paradise, intro. and trans. by S. Brock (Crestwood: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1990), 66-72.
Cf. Tuesday, ode 2.2.
Cf. Tuesday, ode 2.1. On the garments of skin, see Andrius Valevičius, ‘The Greek Fathers and the ‘Coats of Skins’’, Logos: A
Journal of Eastern Christian Studies vol. 36, nos. 1-4 (1995): 168-172.
Cf. Tuesday, ode 2.2.
Cf. Tuesday, ode 2.3.
Cf. Thomas Hopko, The Lenten Spring: Readings for Great Lent (Crestwood: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1983), 42-3.
St Andrew’s contribution cannot be reduced to ‘a high level of abstract, motionless, repetitive discourse, freed from concrete persons and
objects, and from the marks of time and place’ (Kazhdan et alii, ‘Andrew, metropolitan of Crete’, 53).
Cf. First Homily on the Nativity of the Theotokos 3, in Wider than Heaven, 75.
Cf. Nellas, Deification in Christ, 187; Mathewes-Green, First Fruits of Prayer, XIV.